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Little children need sleep more than homework

(Shanghai Daily)

08:00, March 25, 2013


Each day when I pick up my 10 year-old son at wantuoban (paid after-school care where children can do their homework), the first question I ask is: How much homework is still left undone?

Most of time the answer is "a lot," and occasionally "not much - only listening, reading, and memorizing."

At the beginning I was sort of relieved to hear "not much," but I have since learned to drastically discount my son's optimistic estimation, for often "not much" homework can keep him busy well into the night.

Last Wednesday it was already 9pm when he completed his homework. He went to sleep at 10:30pm. That left him eight hours of sleep at best.

While he was brushing his teeth, my wife gave him a dressing down for being "too inefficient" so that he has little time for sleep, not to say reading that he likes.

Generally my son would take such censure in good humor, but this time he burst out.

"Do you have an idea how much work we have? I have been doing it at school, after school at wantuoban, and at home, nonstop!"

He then gave a long list enumerating the assignments, and asked: "And you call that inefficient?"

The next morning, as usual, I had to call my son several times to wake him up, and as he was coming to, he slowly raised two fingers from under the bedding, meaning "two minutes' grace."

This happened to be the World Sleep Day (March 21), a day dedicated to "breathe easily," and "sleep well."

For most children in big cities, breathing and sleeping both are a problem.

For your information, my son studies at a public school known for its enlightened view of education (supposedly with a less crushing burden of homework), rather than any of those abysmal private schools known for their "quality."


According to a report on sleep deprivation ("Only 10 percent of fifth graders have enough sleep," Wenhui Daily, March 21), chronic lack of sleep can lead to a host of problems in children's behavioral, cognitive and physical development.

In a study involving 2,249 fifth graders in 10 primary schools in Shanghai, only 234 of those surveyed could enjoy the minimum 10 hours of sleep.

The lack makes it difficult for some children to stay focused at school.

Of course such problems are not restricted to Shanghai.

In the latest decree by the educational authority in Beijing, local schools are "strictly forbidden" to assign homework for first and second graders or their parents (Xinmin Evening News, March 20).

Such decrees are motivated by good intentions, but to be honest, nearly all schools, children, and parents are more or less accustomed to ignoring such "strictly forbidden" decrees.

And chronic failure to tackle the sleep-deprivation problem is seriously compromising the health of the children, who are future of China.

China has been known as a land of miracles, so make this happen: Allow more children to have enough sleep.

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Email|Print|Comments(Editor:GaoYinan、Chen Lidan)

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